By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — A lawmaker is calling on the Commission on Elections to look deeper into the qualifications of a group currently applying for accreditation for the party list elections.
Act Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said the poll body should investigate the claims of the Ant-Crime Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Inc. that it should be allowed to participate in the May 2013 elections.
“The CIS is a program of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Philippine National Police to supposedly recruit private citizens to help the CIDG-PNP fight crime. Now it’s appears some of its leaders have transformed it into a party list organization and I would not be surprised if its nominees are PNP officials or their close relatives. In fact, one of its nominees is Ma. Rosella Pagdilao, who is reportedly the wife of CIDG head Gen. Samuel Pagdilao Jr. The Comelec should look at the CIDG website, where Gen. Pagdilao himself extolled the CIS project and asked the PNP for more recruits all over the country” said Rep. Tinio.
The congressman pointed out that the party-list law and the Supreme Court prohibit the entry of government projects or its adjuncts into the party list system.
“In fact, this was the main ruling in Bagong Bayani vs. Comelec when the Court disqualified Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD) in 2001 for being an anti-drug project of the PNP. The Comelec should carefully screen this organization,” he said.
Tinio shared that the late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Jesse Robredo attended the CIS convention in Cebu at the International Convention Center (CICC) last August possibly without knowing that a group using the CIS project applied for accreditation with the Comelec.
“Sec. Robredo died in a plane crash after attending that convention. I urge Malacañang to investigate whether that convention was a party list convention and not a legitimate project of the CIDG. PNP Chief Nicanor Barolome should also be asked whether he has knowledge of the CIS application with the Comelec,” he said.
Tino argued that the Act-Cis also committed substantive lapses in their application that should also disqualify them from the party list elections. It said the group failed to state what marginalized sector they represent. Its nominees do not belong to a marginalized sector and in fact, failed to state in their application their respective profession or work, a crucial requirement so that COMELEC will find out their track record, if any.
“A look at the PNP-CIDG website will show that CIS is an adjunct of the PNP,” he said.
In the website, the CIS is also said to be attached to the Intelligence Division of the CIDG and has its headquarters in the CIDG Building in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Among its slogans are “Assist in gathering information that could help the CIDG personnel in fighting criminality” and “Serve as the CIDG’s credible and reliable informants.”
Genuine party-lists blocked
Even as the Comelec continues to go through the applications of many supposed party-list groups, it has already blocked the entry of an environmental group that boasts of a pro-poor record of service.
Earlier in November, the Comelec disqualified the Kalikasan party-list, saying that it does not represent the country’s marginalized sectors. The disqualification prompted protests from its leaders and supporters.
The group’s president Clemente Bautista said that even as they lauded the Comelec’s move to purge the existing list of bogus party lists of politicians and the wealthy elite, it should be more discerning.
“The Comelec should be more careful to avoid becoming an unwitting tool for depriving certain sectors of genuine representation in Congress. From the very start, our group represents not the environment itself but the marginalized sectors who have been gravely affected, for so many decades, by disasters brought about by the destruction of the environment. These include the urban and rural poor, women, professionals, youth and students,” he said.
Clemente explained that the environmental movement from which Kalikasan originated has a track record of almost 15 years of promoting, advocating and struggling for the interests of the marginalized, underrepresented and vulnerable sectors in Philippine society.
“We have spearheaded many major environmental campaigns and actions around the nation, especially involving poor and marginalized communities affected by climate change and other environmental problems,” he said.
Kalikasan continues to challenge the Comelec’s decision in the Supreme Court and assert its right to accreditation and recognition to participate in the party-list system.
“With or without accreditation, we will continue to serve the marginalized and underrepresented sectors that are bearing the full impact of environmental destruction and degradation.
Protests have also been made against the Comelec’s decision to deny accreditation to Courage party-list, a group representing rank-and-file government employees, while upholding the accreditation of Akbayan, a group directly allied with the Aquino administration.
Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo said Courage and Kalikasan have been vocal against Aquino’s policies, which may have cost them their accreditation.
Courage has been pressing for an increase in the salaries for public employees while Kalikasan is at the forefront of protests against the government’s full-scale mining policy.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) also expressed disgust over the Comelec’s decision favoring Akbayan.
“How can the five Comelec commissioners not see that Akbayan is a party in power that has influential cabinet officials and has multi-million peso campaign donors from the country’s ruling elite? Akbayan’s nominees, two of whom are Palace appointees, also do not belong to any of the marginalized sectors that the group claims to represent. Seems that the Palace worked its magic on the Comelec, after Malacañang’s repeated statements favoring Akbayan. We call on the voters to reject Aquino’s favorite non-marginalized and over-represented party-list group,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes.